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Balikbayan voice: Coming across the pro-Erdogan protest in Germany


SUPPORT FOR ERDOGAN. Supporters wave Turkish flags during a pro-Erdogan rally in Cologne, Germany on July 31, 2016. File photo by Oliver Berg/EPA

"Philippinen (Philippines)?" said a stranger behind me.

I turned around and quizzically replied, "Ja (Yes)?"

"Salamat (Thank you)," he said, then clasped his hands before joining his friend cloaked in a Turkish flag.

I was in Cologne, Germany that day, on a day trip with my Chinese-Portuguese classmate to visit the old town and the Gestapo museum.

Little did we know that it was also the same day tens of thousands of Turkish Germans and immigrants would stage a massive rally in Cologne in support of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Truth be told, given Erdoğan's Islamic brand of authoritarianism and crackdown against academics, I don't know how to feel about the stranger's "thank you."

Immediately after leaving Cologne's central station, we were greeted by dozens of police clad in heavy suits.

A large number of police surrounded the Dom Cathedral, a main attraction in Cologne.

We were at first oblivious of what was happening. We continued with our plan of visiting the Old Town and the EL-DE House, home of the National Socialism Documentation Center where the Gestapo (the Nazi secret police) imprisoned and executed more than 400 victims decades ago.

As my classmate and I walked along the Rhine river, we saw thousands of people right across, rallying under a sea of red flags. By asking a police officer nearby, we learned that it was in fact a protest in support of Turkey's president.

We wanted to cross the river to climb to KölnTriangle's observation deck and take photos of the Dom Cathedral and Hohenzollern bridge.

Once we came out from the tram stop, we saw hundreds of people, both men and women, carrying large Turkish national banners and wearing them as capes. Some donned scarves with Erdoğan's face printed on them.

The concentration of police was even tighter in the area. The protesters were enduring bad weather that day in Cologne. It rained heavily for a good hour, but that didn't stop their gathering.

I took some photos of the incident before police advised us to go back to the old town. It was when we were looking for the path going to the Hohenzollern bridge that we met one of the protesters who thanked us for documenting the event.

I didn't know how to respond, and so I just nodded and we continued our way back to Cologne's Old Town. – Rappler.com

Everyone has a story to tell. From compelling narratives to fresh insights and incisive analyses, #BalikBayan Voices is the home for Filipinos from all around the world to speak up and be heard. Send contributions to balikbayan@rappler.com.

Tacloban artist paints Duterte's portrait using coconut wine


TRIBUTE. The medium used in the painting was tuba, or coconut wine, on watercolor paper. Photo by Chris Billes/ Rappler

TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte – Yolanda survivor and renowned mixed media artist Dante Enage painted a portrait of President Rodrigo Duterte using "tuba" or coconut wine.

Enage, a supporter of Duterte from the very beginning of the election campaign period, expressed his support to the president through his artwork.

“He was the last hope of our country,” he said.

Enage added: “It was a way of saying ‘Thank you’ for his good intentions for our country. Being a supporter, it’s like a gift; a tribute.”

Tuba as medium

Enage uses the natural pigment derived from the tanbark of the Barok, a mangrove that is used to give color and flavor to tuba or coconut wine, as medium.

“Tuba is monochromatic. It’s more difficult to use than watercolor (because) it needs a lot of patience,” he said.

He also added that using tuba as a medium entails a step-by-step process which involves the need to wait until the first layer dries up before proceeding to the finest details.

According to him, using “tuba” or cocount wine is his way to relive the arts and culture of the Visayas region.

Enage believes that through his craft, he can unite the Visayan people, art enthusiasts and even inspire the younger generation. He said that using tuba became a legacy of the late Leyte tuba artist Leo Villaflor that Enage wishes to continue.

Painting is therapeutic

When Super Typhoon Yolanda hit his home in San Jose, Tacloban, Enage lost the materials he needed for crafting his visual arts, but that did not stop him from painting again.

Instead, he used his talent as therapy. (READ: Exhibit shows beauty, resiliency of Visayans after Yolanda)

“I treated art as my therapy. I needed to heal from the trauma. During those times, I only had a ballpen. No art materials,” Enage added.

Recently, he launched his painting exhibit entitled “Balaraw," a Waray-Waray term for circle or round.

Showcasing Enage's new series of artworks, "balaraw" aims to convey his message that life must go on and that one must not get stuck in the same struggle, to always look forward to what is ahead.

“Among all the forms, the circle is the strongest one because it’s the symbol of infinity,” he added.

He also believes that art is like penmanship – it is different and unique for every individual.

“The pieces I create are meant to educate and raise awareness. It is meant to be a thought-provoking work of art,” Enage said in a statement.

Another painting entitled, “Don’t kill the innocent," a mixed media assemblage, is also displayed in his recent painting exhibit. This aims to raise concern and a call for help on the rampant killings related to drugs in the Philippines, as well as those around the world. – with a report from Chris Billes/ Rappler.com

POEA scraps OEC for returning OFWs


MANILA, Philippines – Good news for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs)!

In response to President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to streamline government processes, the overseas employment certificate, also known as the OEC, has been scrapped for vacationing OFWs who are bound to return to the same employer at the same job site.

Resolution no. 12 was passed by the Governing Board of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), chaired by Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III and vice chaired by POEA Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac, on August 4.

It takes effect on the first week of September.

The resolution said that the following OFWs will be exempted from the OEC requirement:

  • OFWs who are returning to the same employer and jobsite and with existing record/s in the POEA data base;
  • And those hired through the Government Placement Branch, or the POEA’s in-house recruitment facility for Filipinos aspiring to work abroad.


To qualify for the exemption, however, the returning worker must first register through the BM Online Facility before departure. Registration is free. 

The information that the worker will provide will be stored in the POEA database and transmitted to the Bureau of Immigration (BI) to serve as reference for the Immigration officer who will validate if the worker is qualified for the exemption.

Those who will not be exempted from the requirement will be directed to the BM online webpage where they may register again and set an appointment with their preferred POEA center.

Those who will go to the BI counter at the airport without registering online, meanwhile, will be referred to the Labor Assistance Counter (LAC) for evaluation.

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Travel tax and terminal fee

The returning worker will also be exempt from paying travel tax and terminal fee upon presentation of any of the following documents to the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) and the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA):

  • Valid work visa
  • Work permit
  • Valid employment contract
  • Valid company ID
  • Recent payroll slip
  • Other equivalent document

Before the resolution was passed, there have already been calls for the OEC to be scrapped. During peak seasons like Christmas and graduations, the volume of OFWs securing the OEC reaches up to 5,000 to 7,000 workers a day.

OFWs complained about long lines and having to wait for hours, wasting time they could’ve spent with their families.

LONG LINES. OFWs in Hong Kong line up for hours to obtain their Overseas Employment Certificates. Photo by Daisy CL Mandap/The Sun-HK

The United Filipinos Worldwide (U-OFW), an advocacy group in Saudi Arabia, welcomed the new resolution. “We welcome the POEA resolution providing exemption of Balik-Manggagawa (BM) or returning OFWs from the OEC requirement,” its convenor, John Leonard Monterona, said.

The group said that the OEC itself should be free of charge.

“If really the intent of the Duterte administration is to unburden the OFWs from unnecessary government fees and charges, then there must be no charge in obtaining the OEC,” Monterona added. – Rappler.com


#WalangPasok: Class suspensions, Tuesday, August 9


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Please refresh this page for updates.

MANILA, Philippines – Here is a list of schools and areas where classes have been suspended for Tuesday, August 9, due to rains brought by a low pressure area.

Local governments

  • Parañaque City - all levels, public and private 
  • Las Piñas - all levels, public and private
  • Cavite - all levels, public and private, afternoon classes
  • Muntinlupa City - elementary and high school, public and private, afternoon classes
  • Makati City - all levels, public and private, afternoon classes
  • Quezon City - elementary and high school, public and private
  • Manila - all levels
  • Pasay City - all levels
  • Valenzuela City - all levels
  • Taguig City - all levels
  • Makati City - all levels
  • Antipolo City - all levels
  • Malabon City - all levels
  • Marikina City - all levels
  • Caloocan City - all levels
  • San Juan City - pre-school to high school
  • Mandaluyong City - pre-school to high school
  • Pateros - all levels
  • Taytay, Rizal - all levels
  • Cainta, Rizal - all levels
  • Angono, Rizal - pre-school to high school
  • Cardona, Rizal - pre-school to high school
  • Morong, Rizal - pre-school to high school


  • De La Salle University, Taft and Makati campuses
  • Manila Tytana College
  • Polytechnic University of the Philippines
  • Far Eastern University
  • Colegio de San Juan de Letran
  • Mapua Institute of Technology
  • Adamson University
  • University of the East
  • University of the Philippines-Manila

Not on the list? Help us crowdsource class suspensions by posting in the comments section or tweeting @rapplerdotcom.

For more information: When are classes cancelled or suspended?  Rappler.com

#NotOnMyWatch: Pledge to fight corruption


MANILA, Philippines – Have you ever bribed a government official or employee?

A 2013 survey by the Office of the Ombudsman showed that one in 20 Filipino families admitted giving bribes in transactions with government agencies. The results also showed that poor families seeking basic social services are the most vulnerable.

In another survey by the Social Weather Stations, 32% of Filipino businessmen said that they have personal knowledge of corrupt transactions with the government. More than a third of businessmen also said that most companies in their sector give bribes to win public sector contracts.

Help put an end to bribery and other corrupt practices. Join Rappler's #NotOnMyWatch movement.

What is #NotOnMyWatch?

#NotOnMyWatch uses the power of technology to create a groundswell against corruption and encourage integrity, competence, and transparency in our society.

Join us by:

  • Spreading the word about the effects of corruption and how it affects you;
  • Pledging to report acts of corruption;
  • Committing to not pay bribes;
  • Volunteering to validate and help provide evidence for filing of cases;
  • Promoting good governance and ethical behavior by reporting good work among government officials and employees.

#NotOnMyWatch promotes accountability and transparency by organizing reports and visualizing them real-time to show the public where corruption occurs most frequently and what form they usually take.

It allows concerned government agencies to directly respond to concerns raised by the public, showing actions taken by them, and by providing mechanisms to gather evidence for filing cases.

By battling corruption, #NotOnMyWatch addresses the consequences of corruption in society.

Pledge to fight corruption

#NOTONMYWATCH. Do you know government agencies that engage in corrupt practices?

What would you do to stop corruption in government?

Join the movement by pledging what you can do to help stop corrupt practices using the hashtag #NotOnMyWatch. 

Visit the #NotOnMyWatch site and report government agencies that engage in anomalous transactions.

Here are some things you can also do:

  • Share this story to help inform people of the various forms of corruption in government. When you share, please use #NotOnMyWatch to help us track the ripples of our campaign.
  • Spread the word about how corruption affects ordinary Filipinos like you by posting your thoughts on x.rappler.com.
  • Have you ever been asked to give a bribe? Email details to notonmywatch@rappler.com. It will help if you send supporting documents and contact information so we can reach you in case we need more details.
  • Encourage competent and ethical behavior in government by writing or tweeting about exemplary civil servants you meet using the hashtag #LingkodBayani.
  • Encourage your friends to join and become integrity champions by sharing this link on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Would you like to help validate reports? Email us via notonmywatch@rappler.com so we can invite you to the validation workshops!

Let's push for integrity, competence, and accountability in our society! – Rappler.com

Filipino, Malaysian artists enhance cultural ties through ArtDialogo


KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – Art has always been a great way to connect people from different countries and cultures. In fact, American writer Madeleine L’Engle once called art an actual form of communication – It transcends borders, language, race, and cultures. 

The past week was a testament to that as 13 Filipino artists visited Malaysia through ArtDialogo, an initiative that proves to be the beginning of yet another opportunity for cultural exchange in the Southeast Asian region. 

Founded by artists Nemesio Miranda Jr and Karina Jardin, ArtDialogo helps artists from participating countries create new partnerships, promote culture, and even advance tourism.

ART BRINGS PEOPLE TOGETHER. Philippine Ambassador to Malaysia J Eduardo Malaya (3rd from Left), opens the ArtDialogo exhibit together with Malaysian government officials and Filipino and Malaysian artists. Photo by rtDialogo and the Philippine Embassy in Kuala Lumpur

Philippine Ambassador to Malaysia J Eduardo Malaya, an avid supporter of the arts and the project itself, lauded the ArtDialogo, saying that this is the largest and most distinguished delegation of Filipino artists he has seen in Malaysia.

It is high time that more efforts in expanding cultural exchanges in the region are made, he said.

“I believe it is high time for Malaysians and Filipinos as well as Indonesians and Bruneians, for that matter, to rediscover and celebrate the many things we share in common,” Malaya said.

“All our 4 countries are partners in ASEAN and also building one socio-cultural community. In addition, all 4 belong to maritime Southeast Asia, and geography has bound our peoples since time immemorial, thus resulting in innumerable affinities in heritage, culture, and way of and outlooks in life,” he said. 

Together with Malaysian artist Zaki Hadri of Malaysia’s Visual Art Association called Persatuan Seni Rupa Malaysia (PeRUPA), the Filipino artists participated in art exhibitions, community development activities (such as arts interaction with local schools in Malaysia), and the sharing of best practices through forums. 

The artists engaged in a number of activities, including teaching students of elementary school SJKT Ladang Bukit Jalil how to sketch faces, live art and interaction painting in Kellie’s Castle, Perak, teaching students of SJKC Puay Chai the art of paper cutting, and more.

PAPER CUTTING. Students of SJKC Puay Chai pose for a photo after learning the art of paper cutting through the instruction of Badz Magsumbol (in black shirt, second row). Photo by ArtDialogo and the Philippine Embassy in Kuala Lumpur.

The participating artists from the Philippines were: 

  • Nemesio Miranda Jr
  • Saudi Ahmad
  • Anna Karina Jardin
  • Glenn Blanco
  • Rodolfo Alcantara
  • Christina Manansala
  • Mike Melchior
  • Nimrod Marcelo
  • Aaron Bautista
  • Roy Espinosa
  • Pancho Piano
  • Albert Magsumbol
  • Augusto Santiago Jr

The participating artists from Malaysia were:

  • Abu Zaki Hardi
  • Azman Nor
  • Cheng Peng Sia
  • Ngdawiah Ismail
  • Syuq Tone
  • Halim Abang Drashid
  • Kay Loo
  • Zarina Abdullah
  • Rah Jabbar
  • Khalid Othman
  • Irwan Idris
  • Ismail Allas
  • Hisham Salmin
  • Dato’ Lothfi Ibrahim
  • Munif Muhammad Nor
  • Aris Aziz

“ArtDialogo means cultural interchange, experiencing artists’ works. This is a learning experience and also a chance to see the beauty of each country,” said Miranda, who chairs the initiative.

The Malaysia leg of the event was concluded with an exhibit by Filipino and Malaysian participating artists at the Malaysian Tourist Information Centre (MaTiC) in KL City Centre. The event was graced by dignitaries and patrons of the arts in Malaysia. 

The next leg of ArtDialogo will be in November this year. Malaysian artists will be visiting the Philippines for a series of forums and activities to enhance artistic cooperation. – Rappler.com

What delays aid for 11,000 stranded OFWs in Saudi?


IN CRISIS. More than 11,000 migrant Filipino workers are stranded in Saudi Arabia for months.

MANILA, Philippines – The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) said it had started sending relief assistance to thousands of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) stranded in Saudi Arabia, but the lack of manpower and records hamper their efforts.

In a dialogue with the families of stranded OFWs on Tuesday, August 9, OWWA Director Emma Sinclair admitted that they were having a hard time extending financial assistance to beneficiaries due to the lack of a complete master list containing the names of stranded OFWs.

More than 11,000 migrant workers in 3 major cities in Saudi Arabi – Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam/Al-Khobar – have been in crisis for months after losing their jobs, said the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

Aside from the lack of database, OWWA’s efforts are also impeded with the shortage of manpower in the area, given the number of sites to be visited.

According to OWWA, 1,495 OFWs had been repatriated as of August 7. Each worker received a cash assistance of P20,000. (READ: Unpaid, stranded OFWs in Saudi may now claim aid from OWWA

Month-long intervention   

DOLE, together with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), the Department of Health, and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) will send their personnel to Saudi Arabia for a month-long intervention for the stranded OFWs from August 10 to September 10.

In an earlier statement, DFA said that the mission seeks “to provide immediate humanitarian, legal, and other consular assistance to the stranded OFWs.” They will also deliver basic care, such as medicines and social support for the jobless Filipinos in Saudi. (READ: 'Thousands of OFWs remain stranded, unpaid in Saudi Arabia' )

DSWD, for its part, said on Tuesday that it would conduct psychosocial interventions, counseling, and debriefing for the distressed workers. They also aim to monitor the situations of undocumented OFWs in crises, especially the women and the children, and facilitate the delivery of the services they need. 

“Our [fellow Filipinos] are in serious crisis because their employers did not pay their salaries. They are also confronted by many difficulties caused by the expiry of their end-of-services benefits. Many were not given exit visas after they completed their contracts, and are being delayed for repatriation,” Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo said. – Rappler.com


DA to ask Badjao magna cum laude to lead sea steward project


BADJAO. Roben Abdella graduated magna cum laude from Mindanao State University (MSU) Tawi-Tawi with a degree in Secondary Education. Photo from Basil Sali

MANILA, Philippines – Roben Abdella, the first Badjao to graduate magna cum laude from the Mindanao State University-Tawi-Tawi in 2015 will be asked to lead a new project under the Department of Agriculture (DA).

On Tuesday, August 9, DA Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said that he is meeting Abdella in Tawi-Tawi to offer him to lead Bantay Laut, a project aimed at drafting "the seafaring Badjaos to become guardians of the waters and seas.”

Bantay Laut

Described by the agriculture secretary as both a social and environmental program, the Bantay Laut aims to employ the Badjaos, people who consider the seas as their second homes, to help clean the waters.

“We will pay them under the condition that they will allow their sons and daughters to go to school,” Piñol added. The agency will be allocating P50 million pesos for the project.

The idea to launch the Bantay Laut would have not dawned the agriculture secretary had he not read a Rappler story about Abella.

In April 2015, Rappler wrote a story about Abdella who graduated magna cum laude from the Mindanao State University (MSU) Tawi-Tawi. Aside from hurdling the challenges brought by financial constraints, Abdella also managed to rise above the discrimination people usually attach to the Sama Dilaut, an ethnic group that also identifies as Badjaos.

“When I read the story, I was inspired. I asked myself: what do I do to make this boy work for his craft and his people? So we called him up. We are asking him to head the Bantay Laut program,” Piñol said.

In a previous interview, MSU Tawi-Tawi professor Basil Sali said that people perceive Badjaos as illiterate and inferior. One of the reasons could be that some parents would rather have their children go fishing instead of studying so they can earn money. (READ: The sea gypsies of Tawi Tawi)

SAMA DILAUT. Badjao children on a boat in Zamboanga. Photo by Bobby Lagsa/Rappler

Other programs

The Bantay Laut is one of the four programs Piñol suggested where the DA and DENR could collaborate together.

“It is a must that the environment must be protected for Philippine agriculture to flourish. This is where we have a concerted effort with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources,” Piñol said.

Other programs include “Bantay Kagubatan,” “Masagana at Malinis na Karagatan (MMK),” and “Eco-Friendly Fish Farming.”

Under Bantay Kagubatan, a program which Piñol claims DENR Secretary Gina Lopez loved, the government agencies plan to incentivize poor families who will be identified to protect trees planted under the government's reforestation program. Piñol said that each family is expected to earn P600,000 gross per hectare from the program.

Meanwhile, the MMK aims to implement a nationwide program against illegal fishing and a three-month closed season during the spawning period of the distinct fish species in the different parts of the country.

The Eco-Friendly fish farming program, on the other hand, aims to fill up the fish requirements of Metro Manila with good tasting and clean fish.

“These are the realizations of the dream of President Rodrigo Duterte, to bring everyone together, under one flag and under one nation,” Piñol said. Rappler.com

#WalangPasok: Class suspensions, Wednesday, August 10


What's the weather like in your area? Report the situation through Rappler's Agos or tweet us at @rapplerdotcom.

Please refresh this page for updates.

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED 6:22 am, August 10) – Here is a list of schools and areas where classes have been suspended for Wednesday, August 10, due to monsoon rains. 

Local governments

Metro Manila

  • Caloocan CityClasses from pre-school to senior high school
  • Las Piñas City - Classes in all levels (public and private)
  • Makati CityClasses in all levels (public and private)
  • Malabon CityClasses in all levels (public and private)
  • Mandaluyong City - Classes in all levels (public and private)
  • City of Manila - Classes in all levels (public and private)
  • Marikina City - Classes in all levels (public and private)
  • Muntinlupa CityClasses from pre-school to senior high school
  • Navotas City  Classes from pre-school to senior high school
  • Parañaque City - Classes in all levels (public and private)
  • Pasig City - Classes in all levels
  • Pasay CityClasses in all levels (public and private)
  • PaterosClasses in all levels (public and private)
  • Quezon City -  Classes from pre-school to senior high school (public and private). Suspension of classes among QC colleges and universities will be at the discretion of school administrators.
  • San Juan City - Classes from pre-school to senior high school (public and private)
  • Taguig City - Classes in all levels (public and private)
  • Valenzuela City - Classes in all levels (public and private)


  • BatangasClasses from pre-school to senior high school (public and private)
  • Bataan - Classes in all levels (public and private)
  • Obando, BulacanClasses in all levels (public and private)
  • Cavite - Classes in all levels (public and private)
  • Biñan, LagunaClasses in all levels (public and private)
  • San Pedro, Laguna - Classes in all levels (public and private)
  • Angono, Rizal - Classes from pre-school to senior high school (public and private)
  • Antipolo - Classes in all levels (public and private)
  • Baras, Rizal - Classes from pre-school to senior high school (public and private)
  • Binangonan, Rizal Classes from pre-school to senior high school
  • Cainta, Rizal - Classes in all levels (public and private)
  • Cardona, Rizal Classes from pre-school to senior high school
  • Jalajala, Rizal - Classes in all levels (public and private)
  • Morong, RizalClasses from pre-school to senior high school
  • Rodriguez, Rizal - Classes from pre-school to senior high school (public and private)
  • San Mateo, Rizal - Classes from pre-school to senior high school (public and private)
  • Taytay, RizalClasses in all levels (public and private)
  • Teresa, RizalClasses in all levels


Not on the list? Help us crowdsource class suspensions by posting in the comments section or tweeting @rapplerdotcom.

For more information: When are classes cancelled or suspended?  Rappler.com

IN NUMBERS: Impact of corruption on the Philippines


POOR. Filipino residents living in shanties along a river bank collect useful items from trash in Pasay City on December 27, 2014. File photo by Francis R. Malasig/EPA

MANILA, Philippines – Are you aware of how huge the impact of corruption is on the country?

Under the administration of former president Benigno Aquino III, the campaign on good governance was hinged on the slogan, "Pag walang kurap, walang mahirap (if there is no corruption, there is no poverty)."

This anti-corruption campaign was supported by several studies – including a 2013 survey conducted by the Office of the Ombudsman, which showed that poverty exists partly because of corruption.

Similarly, a report by the World Bank in 2001 said that fighting corruption results in poverty reduction, better delivery of social services, and quality infrastructure.

Research we conducted on corruption in the Philippines and its impact on the economy, businesses, social services, citizen participation in reporting bribes, and being party to bribery yielded the following:

1. The Philippines lost  $410.5 billion between 1960 and 2011 on illicit activities

According to a 2014 report by Global Financial Integrity, the Philippines lost about $410.5 billion between 1960 and 2011 on illicit financial flow. In current exchange rates, the amount is about P19.34 trillion (without accounting for inflation).

The vast majority of money flowing illegally into and out of the Philippines over the 52-year time span was done mostly through misinvoicing of trade. The table below shows how much money the government lost between 1960 and 2011:


<iframe src="https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1oPFVjbZA1-6J0NR-2EmPi-5dO3SLLdZiglHXDtNOHTE/pubhtml?widget=true&amp;headers=false" width="100%" height="400"></iframe>


In effect, the P19.34 trillion lost to corruption could have been used for education, health or infrastructure. In the 2016 national budget, this amount is:

  • 154 times the budget for health (P125.4 billion)
  • 52 times the budget for social protection (P370.4 billion)
  • 39 times the budget for education (P490.6 billion)
  • 25 times the budget for infrastructure (P759.58 billion)

2. $1 of every $4 goes unreported to Customs officials


<iframe src="http://e.infogr.am/6cdb2370-8794-461e-aaa5-c799e01e4df1?src=embed" title="" width="100%" height="430" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" style="border:none;"></iframe>


In terms of lost revenue, the Bureau of Customs tops the list.

According to Global Financial Integrity, money flowing illicitly into the country takes away 25% of the value of all goods as $1 in every $4 goes unreported to Customs officials.

Since 2000, illicit financial flows have cheated the government of an average of $1.46 billion in tax revenue each year or about P68.8 billion in current rates.

To put that amount into perspective, the Philippines lost $3.85 billion in tax revenues in 2011 (P166.74 billion in 2011 rates) which is about 10% of the national budget that same year.

3. The Philippines ranks 95th in the global corruption perception index

Apart from grave impact on the fiscal arena, corruption affects the business climate.

According to anti-graft watchdog Transparency International (TI), the Philippines slid in its annual corruption perception ranking. With a score of 35 out of a possible 100, the country currently ranks 95th among 168 countries surveyed, according to expert opinion.


<iframe src="//e.infogr.am/2799ebe9-0a18-45ca-ad7c-0a548003f32f?src=embed" title="CPI Rank of the Philippines" width="100%" height="430" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" style="border:none;"></iframe>


In 2014, the Philippines ranked 85th out of 175 countries, 10 notches higher than the current rank. The country got a score of 38 out of 100.

Over the years, trust in the public sector seems to have improved based on TI's data. According to the report, poor results are attributed to promises yet to be fulfilled and corruption efforts undermined.

There were other issues that put the government in a bad light, such as the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) and the reported delay in aid to victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). (READ: What stats, surveys say about Aquino's fight vs corruption)

4. In ASEAN, the Philippines is perceived as the 5th least corrupt nation

Compared to Southeast Asian neighbors, the Philippines currently is the 5th least corrupt nation among 10 member-states in the region.

This is particularly important as these numbers determine how attractive the country is to investors.


<iframe src="//e.infogr.am/7cf87056-7797-4508-95eb-b806d3a66921?src=embed" title="" width="100%" height="460" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" style="border:none;"></iframe>


In 2014, the Philippines tied with Thailand as the 3rd least corrupt nation in the region. It was when the country attained its highest rank in the past decade.

Back in 2008, the Philippines used to be the 4th most corrupt nation when it experienced its lowest dip in rankings. At the time, alleged corruption during the term of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo hit an all-time high. (READ: TIMELINE: Gloria Arroyo – from plunder to acquittal)

Throughout the decade, Singapore has remained to be the perceived as corrupt-free not only within Southeast Asia, but around the world. It topped the rankings in 2010.

5. Filipino executives still think that the Bureau of Customs is the most corrupt government agency

Likewise, corruption affects ease of doing business.

The results of the 2014/2015 Social Weather Stations Survey of Enterprises on Corruption showed that 32% of Filipino executives surveyed said they have personal knowledge of corrupt transactions with the government.

Among agencies, Filipino businessmen still think that the Bureau of Customs is the most corrupt. The BOC received a sincerity rating of -55 from -65 in 2013. Despite the improvement, it was the only agency with a "very bad" rating in its "sincerity" in fightiing corruption.


<iframe src="//e.infogr.am/837e876f-6589-4be4-896d-b2c0c4e2f9e6?src=embed" title="Net Sincerity in Fighting Corruption 2014/2015" width="100%" height="570" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" style="border:none;"></iframe>


The SWS terminology for net sincerity ratings are the following: excellent +70 and up; very good +50 to +69; good +30 to +49; moderate +10 to +29; neutral -9 to +9; poor -29 to -10; bad -49 to -30; and very bad, -69 to -50.

6. Less Filipino businessmen engage in corrupt transactions

According to a 2014/2015 SWS poll, less Filipino executives were asked for bribes during transactions. The number fell from 50% in 2012 to 44% in 2013 and 2014/2015.

Results also showed that 28% of the respondents said most companies in their line of business gave bribes to win private sector contracts.

Chart by SWS

According to the poll, more businessmen think that the government does not punish corrupt officials. Only 11% of the respondents believe that the government often or almost always punishes corrupt officials, from 20% in 2013 and 27% in 2012.

However, 57% said that corrupt executives in their own sector of business are often punished. In the same 2014/2015 poll, of those solicited for bribes, only 13% admitted paying the bribe and reported the incident.

Overall, 64% of those surveyed were satisfied with the national government's performance in promoting a good business climate but lower than 2013's record of 70%.

7. One out of 20 families engages in bribery

Apart from businesses, data show that families and individuals take part in dishonest transactions as well.

In a 2013 survey, the Office of the Ombudsman found that one in every 20 Filipino families paid a bribe or grease money when transacting with a government agency.

Compared to a similar survey by the Philippine Statistics Authority in 2010, fewer families paid a bribe in 2013. The earlier survey found that two in every 20 families gave grease money.

Results showed that agencies involved in the delivery of basic social services are more vulnerable to corruption. Despite the decrease in participation in bribery, more families paid bribes when availing of social services. In 2010, the percentage of families who paid bribes was 4.1%; this increased to 4.5% by 2013.

Ironically, poor families are more likely to pay bribes just to have access to basic services, the poll revealed.

8. More Filipinos report corrupt practices to authorities

Despite the aggressive anti-corruption drive of the government, the Ombudsman found that the number of families that reported bribery incidents to public authorities is still low.

The 2013 survey said that 5.3% of the families who experienced being solicited for bribes reported the incident. This figure is almost 7 times the percentage of families in 2010.

The most cited reason for non-reporting is the amount being asked is too small to bother about. Other reasons were fear of reprisal and lack of time to report. – with Denise Nacnac/Rappler.com

*2016 $1 = P47.11, 2011 $1 = P43.31

Sources: Office of the Ombudsman, Transparency International, Global Financial Integrity

Denise Nacnac is a Rappler intern

Have you ever been asked to give a bribe? Email details to notonmywatch@rappler.com. It will help if you send supporting documents and contact information so we can reach you in case we need more details.

Encourage your friends to join and become integrity champions by sharing this link on Facebook and Twitter.

Would you like to help validate reports? Email us via notonmywatch@rappler.com so we can invite you to the validation workshops!

#WalangPasok: Class suspensions, Thursday, August 11


What's the weather like in your area? Report the situation through Rappler's Agos or tweet us at @rapplerdotcom.

Please refresh this page for updates.

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED as of 11:50 am) – Here is a list of schools and areas where classes have been suspended for Thursday, August 11, due to rains brought by a low pressure area.

Local governments

  • Lipa City - preschool to elementary
  • Caluya, Antique - all levels
  • Iloilo City - all levels

Not on the list? Help us crowdsource class suspensions by posting in the comments section or tweeting @rapplerdotcom.

For more information: When are classes cancelled or suspended?  Rappler.com

Business community launches first-ever disaster operations center


DASHBOARD. Jerome Zayas of EMI briefs PDRF Board Members of the features of the EMOPS platform. Photo credit PDRF

MANILA, Philippines – While the majority of the Philippines sleeps, there are teams of people who are up, keeping watch over the country in case a disaster strikes.

They are weather forecasters, disaster managers, and individual volunteers who see it as their duty to be the first to sound the alarm and mobilize responders in a crisis.

Just as in other countries, the Philippine government takes the lead in disaster management. But the private sector and civil society also play a large role, which has been welcomed by the government.

On Wednesday, August 11, the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation launched the country’s first-ever private sector-led Emergency Operations Center (EOC). The center, located in Makati, will run 24/7 in times of a disaster to gather data and coordinate preparedness and response plans of PDRF’s member companies.

It is linked to a pacific disaster center in Hawaii and is able to track any storm, volcanic eruption, or earthquake around the world. It will also link up with the government’s emergency operations center located in Camp Aguinaldo.

The PDRF was established by the business community in 2009 to address key gaps in disaster risk management and compliment the government’s disaster risk management program.

Focus on resilience

In a country constantly threatened by earthquakes, typhoons, and volcanoes, the risks are real and the stakes very high. (READ: Largest peace time evacuation)

For businesses, disasters result in affected employees, damaged assets, and lost revenue. This has prompted the business community to shift its resources to preparedness initiatives instead of the more traditional relief aid.

“We decided as a business community that we would all co-invest and pitch in to create the EOC,” said Bill Luz of the National Competitiveness Council. Luz is also PDRF’s chief resiliency officer.

PDRF co-chairmen Jaime Zobel de Ayala and Manny Pangilinan sat side-by-side at the launch of the center in a symbolic show of unity together with Manila Archbishop Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle. Rivals in business, the two CEOs have put in their companies’ resources in PDRF and are hoping other companies will follow suit.

TEAMWORK. Business rivals Jaime Zobel de Ayala and Manny Pangilinan sit as co-chairs of the PDRF Board. Photo credit PDRF  

This private sector-led effort reflects a major shift among stakeholders in disaster management toward more proactive collaboration and greater efficiency.

Share to save lives

There is also an increasing reliance on data and technology.

Government initiatives, such as Project NOAH and the DWSD’s Virtual Ops Center, all make use of the latest mapping and satellite technology. (READ: The power of technology: Solutions for disaster response)

Social media platforms, like the Philippine Red Cross’ #FirstAidPH app and Rappler’s Agos powered by eBayanihanfurther integrate crowdsourcing, SMS, big data, and machine learning to add more robust layers of information on top of existing hazard and exposure maps.

SNAPSHOT. The Agos Alert Map crowdsources and visualizes reports in times of disaster. Visit agos.rappler.com today

According to Dr Fouad Bendimerad, chairman of the Earthquake and Megacities Initiative, the challenge moving forward is to make it easier to gather and share data among all the stakeholders.

“If we share the info, we can work better together,” said Bendimerad.

“If we focus on resilience and preparedness, we could save lives,” added Luz. – Rappler.com

PDRF is a partner of Agos powered by eBayanihan.

PH gov't urged to fix master list of stranded OFWs to fast-track aid


OFW ADVOCATE. ACTS-OFW Representative John Bertiz wants the government to do all that it can to help stranded OFWs in Saudi Arabia. Photo by Mara Cepeda/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Advocates for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) called on the Philippine government to complete the master list of stranded OFWs in Saudi Arabia to ensure the assistance that has been promised to them. 

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said on Wednesday, August 10, that Saudi Arabia King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud has pledged to help thousands of OFWs who lost their jobs in Riyadh, Jeddah, and Dammam/Al-Khobar.

This includes waiving immigration penalties due to their expired working visas, plane fare back to the Philippines, food aid, and assistance for re-employment and legal services. 

But on Thursday, ACTS-OFW Representative John Bertiz expressed concern that the assistance may not immediately be given because there is no complete record of the OFWs stranded in Saudi Arabia and there is not enough manpower. (READ: What delays aid for 11,000 stranded OFWs in Saudi?

"Kasi ang OWWA (Overseas Workers Welfare Administration) rin 'di nila alam 'yung laman ng list. Ang list naman ng POEA (Philippine Overseas Employment Administration) ay 8,000 lang, pero sa lista ng DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) around 11,000," said Bertiz at the Usaping Balita Media Forum at the Serye Cafe Filipino in Quezon City.

(OWWA doesn't know how many people are on the list. The POEA's list has 8,000, but the DFA listed around 11,000.) 

Longtime OFW advocate Susan Ople also said this lack of a unified and accurate master list could be detrimental to the stranded OFWs.

"Oras na hiningi ng Saudi Arabia ang listahan ng lahat ng stranded na OFWs, ang pangamba namin baka hindi tayo handa kasi ngayon pa lang, iba-iba 'yung mga figures na binibigay," said Ople.

(Once Saudi Arabia asks for the list of OFWs, my worry is that we may not be ready because as of now, we're giving different figures.)

"Hindi lang kasi 'yung stranded workers ang tutulungan ng hari kundi lahat ng nationalities – 'yung Indians, 'yung Pakistanis. Halo-halo na 'yan. So depende 'yan kung sino ang pinaka-organized na bansa at pamahalaan na maaaring magbigay agad ng tamang impormasyon," she added. 

(Our stranded workers are not the only ones the king would be helping – he will help other nationalities like the Indians and the Pakistanis. It's a mix. So the giving of aid might depend on which country and government can immediately give the right information.)

Both Bertiz and Ople agreed that the DFA should take the lead in helping and repatriating the stranded OFWs. 

Representatives from the DFA, Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Health, and Department of Social Welfare and Development flew to Saudi Arabia on August 10 for a month-long intervention for the stranded OFWs. 

Thanking Saudi, providing jobs in PH 

Bertiz already filed a House resolution extending the Philippine government's gratitude to Salman for his "generous help" to OFWs in Saudi Arabia. 

"The royal decree of His Majesty King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud of Saudi Arabia removes any and all stumbling blocks to the mass repatriation of our stranded Filipino workers, which shall now be carried out at the expense of the Saudi government," read his resolution. 

Ople, meanwhile, urged the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the Department of Transportation (DOTr), and the Department of Energy (DOE) to consider opening jobs for the OFWs once they return home. 

"'Yung mga stranded sa Saudi, 'yun 'yung mga magagaling nating engineers. Ito 'yung mga magagaling natin na construction workers kasi nagtatrabaho sila sa pinaka-major na construction conglomerates sa Saudi Arabia," said Ople, calling them "among the best of the best."

(Those stranded in Saudi are our highly skilled engineers. They are the highly skilled construction workers because they worked in major construction conglomerates in Saudi Arabia.)

"So ang recommendation ng [Blas F] Ople [Training] Center [and Policy Institute] [ay] baka naman puwedeng tignan ng DPWH, ng DOTr, at pati ng Department of Energy, kapag may mga trabaho na puwedeng buksan, kung saan puwedeng i-tap 'yung talents at 'yung exposure ng mga stranded OFWS sa bago at modernong paraan sa pagpapatayo ng gusali," added Ople, who heads the Ople Center.

(So the recommendation of the Blas F Ople Training Center and Policy Institute is for the DPWH, DOTr, and the Department of Energy to open jobs that can tap the talents and exposure of the stranded OFWs. They can help put up modern buildings.) – Rappler.com

'Most 'shabulized' province?: Ilonggos shocked over Duterte's claim


TAGGED. President Duterte tags Iloilo as a province with a number of alleged drug protectors and persons involved in narco-politics. Image by Nico Villarete / Rappler

ILOILO CITY, Philippines – Ilonggos took to Twitter their disbelief that President Rodrigo Duterte named Iloilo as the most "shabulized" province in the country. The President was referring to the magnitude and extent of shabu use in the province. (READ: Duterte names officials linked to drugs)

Some netizens felt sad and weary about the infamous and deadly tag. 


<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Tough times for Iloilo City, stripped of her noble titles. But she will rise again with a real leader that she truly deserves <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/shabulized?src=hash">#shabulized</a></p>&mdash; Ric Martin (@ric_liboon) <a href="https://twitter.com/ric_liboon/status/762929769964896256">August 9, 2016</a></blockquote>
<script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>



<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">SHABULIZED PROVINCE~ :)<br>Im Proud To be An Ilonggo but im not Addict! :P &gt;.&lt;<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BatobatosaLangit?src=hash">#BatobatosaLangit</a>!</p>&mdash; LGBT_GoodVibes (@moanrca) <a href="https://twitter.com/moanrca/status/762259700805095424">August 7, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>



<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Iloilo City as the most &quot;shabulized&quot; city in the Philippines? My beloved hometown. I don&#39;t know how to feel about this. </p>&mdash; Kathlyn Ko (@kokokokrunch) <a href="https://twitter.com/kokokokrunch/status/762253716061696000">August 7, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>



<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="tl" dir="ltr"><a href="https://twitter.com/chiminychurva">@chiminychurva</a> walang labs dito sa Iloilo kahit kelan pa.. kaya medyo nakakagulat yung report na most shabulized daw.</p>&mdash; Point Dexter (@JulianCarax09) <a href="https://twitter.com/JulianCarax09/status/762252831596306432">August 7, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>



<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Iloilo City known as City of Love turned to Shabulized City real quick. </p>&mdash; KG (@kiervegirxo) <a href="https://twitter.com/kiervegirxo/status/762247731440001024">August 7, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>


Others were not as surprised to hear the news.


<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Daming butthurt over the &quot;most shabulized&quot; label. Lol.</p>&mdash; Bep Chavez (@bepchavez) <a href="https://twitter.com/bepchavez/status/762224351122862084">August 7, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>



<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Waking up to the news about narcopolitics is not one of the best things that happened today. Moreso, tagging my beloved city as shabulized.</p>&mdash; Geline Joy Samillano (@msSamillano) <a href="https://twitter.com/msSamillano/status/762211309588930560">August 7, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>



<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">I admire President Duterte and Im very much disappointed of Mayor Jed Mabilog. Our city of love is the most &quot;shabulized&quot; here in the Ph.</p>&mdash; PK&#39;s ❣ (@duuhnelle) <a href="https://twitter.com/duuhnelle/status/762108021824630784">August 7, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>



 <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Honestly can&#39;t say that I&#39;m shocked that Iloilo is the most &quot;shabulized&quot; city in the PH LEL</p>&mdash; Gyel Sollano (@JackAndGyel) <a href="https://twitter.com/JackAndGyel/status/762041596573470720">August 6, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>


Some took the claim lightly through jokes and memes.


 <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">From &quot;most livable&quot; to &quot;most &#39;shabulized&#39; &quot;  HALA BIRA, ILOILO. </p>&mdash; Stephanie Velasco (@sjprzvelasco) <a href="https://twitter.com/sjprzvelasco/status/762100627883163648">August 7, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>



<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">From &quot;City of Love&quot; to &quot;Most Shabulized City&quot; real quick. </p>&mdash; թяec (@KidrauhlDolls) <a href="https://twitter.com/KidrauhlDolls/status/762150960147816449">August 7, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>



<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Iloilo<br>Before: City of Love<br>Now: Most &quot;Shabulized&quot; province in the country<br><br>Well that escalated quickly.</p>&mdash; The Ivan (@JuanKristyano) <a href="https://twitter.com/JuanKristyano/status/762099168437374976">August 7, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>



<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Just in: President Duterte names government officials involved in drug trade. Calls Iloilo &quot;MOST SHABULIZED CITY.&quot; <a href="https://t.co/rtEynbLtMU">pic.twitter.com/rtEynbLtMU</a></p>&mdash; Rei Hontanar (@Reisi_Lannister) <a href="https://twitter.com/Reisi_Lannister/status/762081574514925568">August 7, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>


Oplan Toktok Hangyo

Oplan Toktok Hangyo, commonly known as Oplan Tokhang, brought a total of 423 drug pushers and users including 24 on the police watch-list to voluntarily surrender in Iloilo City Police Station 1 (ICPS 1) in July.

Among the persons allegedly involved as drug protectors in the province are  mayors Alex Centena of Calinog, Salagunting Betita of Carles, Mariano Malones of Maasin and Jed Patrick Mabilog of Iloilo City.

Duterte also indicated former Guimaras Representative, JC Rahman Nava, Vice Mayor Francis Amboy of Maasin, regional trial court (RTC) judge Sabillo, former city councilor Erwin Plagata, lawyer Antonio Pesina, and Jeffrey Celiz. Celiz was the former spokesperson and executive assistant of Mabilog.

The list also included several police personnel both active in service and retired. He also ordered the police and military officers serving as security teams of the above stated politicians to report to their mother units.

According to PSupt Gilbert Gorrero of the Police Regional Office-6 headquarters in Iloilo City, PRO-6 recalled all Philippine National Police (PNP) personnel who were mentioned in the list.

He also added that all security escorts of the mayors were included in the recall and were ordered to report right away to their immediate supervisors.

Iloilo City mayor denies involvement

Mabilog earlier denied the allegation and called for a speedy investigation.

Mabilog stressed in a press conference that he supports Duterte’s drive against illegal drugs, noting that he has implimented programs against illegal drugs since he became mayor.

“The record will speak for itself – that my administration was always in full support of the needs of the PNP and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), the agencies primarily responsible for the suppression and elimination of illegal drugs in the city, and I have never been remiss in this duty and obligation,’’ he said.

He categorically denied his involvement: “I am not involved in the protection, trade and use of illegal drugs. I am willing to open myself for any investigation, cooperate and submit myself to any court of law.”  He also requested for authorities to conduct a speedy investigation since the matter endangers his personal security and life.

Mayor Alex Centina of Calinog clarified that his only association to Iloilo’s alleged drug lord, Melvin Odicta, was purely business.

“He approached me wanting to buy a wild boar, but I told him that I can give it to him in exchange for a Siberian Husky. I knew him as a businessman and a taxi operator,” Centena clarified.

Meanwhile, Maasin Mayor Mariano Malones Sr, appealed to the office of the PNP Regional Office 6 to ask for assistance in the speedy investigation of his involvement in the narco-list.

“My conscience is clear. I have not personally seen a speck of drugs in my lifetime. I do not know any of these drugs personalities either,” Malones said.

Ilonggo leaders call for fairness before the law

Ilonggo Senator Franklin Drilon earlier urged Duterte to immediately charge those in the narco-list administratively or in court, saying that if the officials were indeed involved, due process and the rule of law should take its course.

“I strongly support President Duterte’s anti-drug campaign but due process and the rule of law must be dutifully upheld,” Drilon said in a statement. He also indicated his concern over Iloilo being branded negatively due to the association of its local leader’s alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade.

“All the efforts of the Ilonggos for the past 5 years to make Iloilo an attractive and progressive investment destination and a livevable city is negated by a sweeping judgement of the city and the province of Iloilo," he said.

He added that “whatever these officials may have allegedly done are their individual acts and cannot be the collective guilt of the Ilonggos.”

Representative Jerry Trenas of the lone district of Iloilo also expressed his full support for Duterte’s action to clean up the country of illegal drugs.

“I will give my utmost in my capacity to ensure that this campaign will succeed. Mayor Jed should be given a chance to clear himself in a legal proceeding so that he will be able to present evidence,” Trenas said in his official statement.

Iloilo Governor Art Defensor also stated his support with the alleged  narco-mayors of Iloilo. “As a lawyer, it would have been best if the cases were filled against those in the list before calling for a press conference and naming these personalities. But we can’t really lecture the president,” Defensor said on an interview.

“I doubt very much whether the figure or data of PDEA and PNP will justify the statement of the President that Iloilo is the most shabulized province,” Defensor added. 

Drilon, Defensor, Trenas and Mabilog ran under Liberal Party during the 2016 elections. - Rappler.com

Russel Jude Patina Mendez is a Rappler Mover in Iloilo City.

#OFWTips: Planning to invest? Protect yourself from investment scams


MANILA, Philippines – When overseas Filipino workers (OFW) leave the country, most of them have one thing in mind: to be able to provide for their families in the Philippines.

Vince Rapisura, president of the Social Enterprise Development Partnerships, Inc., a social enterprise that provides financial literacy trainings to low-income OFWs in 15 countries worldwide, says that the best approach to achieving your financial goal is to work on having a passive income – regular earnings that require little to no effort. 

Passive income may derive from different forms of investments like rental property, investing in businesses where you will not be playing an active role, and others.

But many OFWs fail to invest their money.

Investing your money can help grow it even further and help you reach your financial goals even faster. 

Who do people not invest?

According to Vince, one thing that hinders many Filipinos from investing is the thinking that investing requires a big amount of money. This is not true.  

You can start investing with small amounts by simply opening a savings account. As you get more money using your active income (salary, commission, etc), you gain the propensity to invest in other investment vehicles.

The important thing is you start investing already, even in small amounts, and try to make it a habit.

Making investing a habit also means teaching yourself to live within your means. Vince suggests following the 5-15-20-60 rule – with 5% of income going to insurance premium, 15% to savings, 20% to investments, and 60% to expenses.  

You must also be careful with debts – borrow only when you plan to use it for productive purposes, which in this case, is investing. Make sure that the return you will get from this investment is higher than the interest you need to pay for the loan. 

Investment scams 

Remember: a good investor is a patient one.

Vince says many OFWs fall victim to investment scams, mostly because they want to quickly get rich. This is not necessarily out of greed, but mostly out of the desire to get out of poverty.

The best way to avoid investment scams is by arming yourself with enough knowledge and skill in investing. 

A good investor knows what to look for and exerts due diligence in research work before going into any deals. 

Gather as much information about your prospect investment and perform background checks on the organization or people you will be investing on. Of course, verify their existence by checking their business registrations and licences too. With the internet and social media at your disposal, research should be easier.

When choosing an investment vehicle, make sure you understand their business model. Keep asking and speculating until it's clear to you.

If they are promising high returns, ask yourself two things: 

  • How does the company generate revenue? Remember: Revenue should come from products or delivery of services, not from recruitment.
  • If the income of the source is legitimate, is it not violating human rights or causing people or the environment harm? These kinds of investments may offer high returns but they are not sustainable in the long run.

Before investing, you must also get to know your agent or broker.

Be careful of the halo effect: do no judge the person based on how they look or sound. Just because they look the part doesn’t mean they are what they claim to be.

Here are some questions you should ask them: 

  • How long have you been in this business? What has been your experience so far?
  • How does your organization earn revenue to afford the returns you are promising?
  • What are some challenges that your organization currently faces?
  • How long can you wait before I invest?
  • Did you invest in the organization yourself? Why or why not?
  • What is the historical performance of your organization?

Make sure that your transactions are done in the organization’s official business address. To be sure, ask the building manager or neighbors how long the organization has been in that address to make sure it’s not a ‘fly-by-night’ operation. 

You may also talk with both existing and previous customers of the organization to get more insights.

Be careful of salespersons who call, email, or send you text messages out of the blue. Legitimate salespersons do not usually do this.

Also, when you are investing, make sure to document everything. Keep all communications, correspondences, receipts, prospectus, etc. These will protect you in court in case things take a bad turn. 

When is an investment too good to be true?

Vince says that if an investment offer sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. Watch out for these signs:

  • the promise of high returns in a short period of time;
  • the claim of being a no-risk investment, or a full guarantee where you do not stand to lose; and
  • the investment offer is a once-in-a-lifetime deal.

"Easy money" is earned through a crime or a wrongdoing such as corruption or an investment scam. Scams usually promise high returns. Before throwing in your savings to invest, make sure you could make sense of the high returns they are offering.

Remember: there is no such thing as a risk-free investment. Do not be pressured to invest, even if you’ve been told that it’s a once-in-a-lifetime deal, or even when everybody else seems to be jumping in.

Be patient and take the time to decide.

“Remember that the fastest way to get rich is to do it slowly. Avoid getting into ‘get rich quick’ schemes,’ wrote Vince in his financial literacy book, (L)earning Wealth.


To help even more OFWs and young professionals manage their finances better, SEDPI produces weekly webisodes featuring Vince Rapisura and beauty queen Venus Raj entitled #UsapangPera.

The third episode, to be released on Friday, August 12 at 7pm, will also be discussing investing. Bookmark this page and watch it here on Rappler! – Rappler.com 

SEDPI is a Philippine-based capacity-builder in the fields of microfinance, social entrepreneurship, and financial literacy. Learn more about them here.

Got questions for SEDPI about managing your finances? Email us at balikbayan@rappler.com.

#WalangPasok: Class suspensions, Friday, August 12


What's the weather like in your area? Report the situation through Rappler's Agos or tweet us at @rapplerdotcom.

Please refresh this page for updates.

MANILA, Philippines – Here is a list of schools and areas where classes have been suspended for Friday, August 12, due to heavy rains. 

Local governments

Metro Manila

  • Caloocan City Afternoon classes in all levels
  • Malabon City - Afternoon classes in all levels (public and private)
  • City of ManilaAfternoon classes in all levels (public and private)
  • Navotas City  Afternoon classes in all levels (public and private)
  • Pasay CityClasses from preschool to high school (public and private) from 12 noon onwards
  • Valenzuela City - Afternoon classes in all levels (public and private)


  • Bataan - Classes in all levels (public and private) from 12 noon onwards

Not on the list? Help us crowdsource class suspensions by posting in the comments section or tweeting @rapplerdotcom.

For more information: When are classes cancelled or suspended?  Rappler.com

Duterte appoints Aiza Seguerra as new NYC chairperson


NYC CHAIRPERSON. Aiza Seguerra is the incoming Chairperson and CEO of the National Youth Commission.

MANILA, Philippines – Singer and actor Aiza Seguerra has been appointed new chairperson and CEO of the National Youth Commission (NYC).

NYC Assistant Secretary Earl Saavedra announced the appointment by the President of Cariza Yamson Seguerra as undersecretary and head of the Commission Friday, August 12, during its celebration of International Youth Day.

"I take the opportunity to formally announce to everyone, with great honor, the appointment of the new chairperson of NYC, Cariza Yamson Seguerra, the newest member of the NYC family," Saavedra said. 

Seguerra, together with partner, Liza Diño, has been a vocal supporter of President Rodrigo Duterte even prior the 2016 elections, campaigning for him both online and offline. Seguerra has also urged other Duterte supporters in the past not to be blind followers and to respect the opinion of others.

"It will help our President kung hindi tayo one-sided at marunong tayong magbigay ng respeto sa opinion ng iba (if we aren't one-sided and if we respect the opinion of others) instead of fanning the flames of hatred towards people who don't share the same point of view or opinion,” Seguerra wrote in a previous post.

A musician and former child actor, Seguerra has also supported the Lumads or indigenous peoples in Surigao del Sur. In September 2015, the Lumads have been on the receiving end of  reported attacks, killings, arrests, harassment, zoning, and vilification in Lumad areas.

Seguerra takes the place of former NYC Chairperson Gio Tiongson who led the agency from 2014 to 2016.

During the IYD celebration, NYC also celebrated the achievements of the Filipino youth in reforming the Sangunniang Kabataan.

"Each one contributed the needed fair share to revolutionize the SK structure. With everyone's unified efforts, we succeeded with our goal to reengineer the structure for the better," Saavedra said. 

Through its programs and projects that cater to the youth, the NYC serves to provide 30 million Filipino youth with opportunities to be an active partner in nation-building. 

The agency’s programs include the Ship for Southeast Asian Youth Program (SSEAYP), Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations (TAYO), National Youth Parliament, and the Local Youth Development Program. Rappler.com

(L)Earning Wealth: A book with social agenda


LEARNING AND EARNING. For every book purchased, the SEDPI Foundation donates another book to a marginalized community. Photo by Lou Gepuela / Rappler

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines is known as one of the world’s most vulnerable countries when it comes to hazards and natural disasters, but what not many realize are the other concerns arising from this.

In times of disaster and emergency, 8 out of 10 poor families will access a loan to tide things over. This is not adviseable for one’s financial health. Low financial literacy often results in loans being used for consumption purposes, such as purchases of medicine, food, or the repair of housing.

Take the case of school teachers. Research conducted in 2015 shows that while teachers are well aware of how to prepare budgets as a part of their profession, a significant portion of them – around 68% – are also heavily indebted, without savings for emergencies, leaving them prey to loan sharks.

Vince Rapisura knows this, and wants to do something about it.

His is a unique perspective, having grown up in a small rural neighborhood in the province of Quirino, and teaching social entrepreneurship and microfinance at the Ateneo de Manila University for the past 13 years. Through Social Enterprise Development Partnerships or SEDPI, he has provided financial literacy training to overseas Filipino workers in 15 countries, helping more than 30,000 individuals get back on their feet and learn how to develop stronger financial management skills.

FINANCIAL LITERACY. Vince Rapisura has been teaching microfinance and entrepreneurship at the Ateneo de Manila University for the past 13 years. Photo by Lou Gepuela / Rappler

“What we found out was that a lot of the poor are financially excluded, and with a low financial literacy level,” said Rapisura in a Rappler Talk, noting that the same characteristics were also evident among many overseas Filipino workers. (READ: Rappler, SEDPI partner to empower OFWs

“That’s where the opportunity came in. Maybe we should go into financial literacy for overseas Filipino workers, because they send a lot of remittances to the Philippines,” observed Rapisura.    

Practical, relevant, effective

(L)Earning Wealth is the first book from the SEDPI Foundation. Unlike other books, however, for every book purchased, the SEDPI Foundation donates another book to marginalized communities. This “One-for-One’ model not only benefits the book purchaser by learning about money management, but also has a direct impact on helping poor communities.

(L)Earning Wealth is a personal finance guidebook that contains proven methods, expert counsel, and practical advice on how to better manage one’s finances, explaining in simple terms the language of money - assets, budgeting, insurance, investments, liabilities, loans, loss, profit, and savings.

It is not just a financial dictionary, but also dwells on typical Filipino practices, attitudes, and behaviors that prevent effective money management.

Real-life experiences and examples are shown to illustrate lessons learned the hard and painful way, and will hopefully inspire more Filipinos to begin the journey not just towards financial literacy, but to take the necessary steps to secure their own financial freedom - and that of their friends, families, and communities.

“This (book) is very relevant if you’re looking for ways to start your financial plan, how to get out of debt, what insurance product is right for you, how to invest, how to avoid investment scams,” says Rapisura.

The book is available in major bookstores in the Philippines. - Rappler.com

If you know of a community that will benefit from financial literacy training, please refer them by going to http://learningwealth.org/contact

This online shop sells products with real social impact


GOOD CAUSE. 'Ethical jewelry,' 'fair trade greeting cards,' and 'accessories that give' - these are just some of the many unique products you can buy on Cambio Market.

MANILA, Philippines – A quick scan through the Cambio Market website tells you that it's not your usual online shop.

'Ethical jewelry,' 'fair trade greeting cards,' and 'accessories that give' – these are just some of the many unique products you can buy on this relatively new shop offering handmade, ethically-sourced products with real social impact.

When you buy from Cambio Market, you also contribute to various social causes, such as wildlife conservation and helping victims of abuses, among others. 

HANDMADE. Photo from Cambio Market Instagram account.

Buying one of their handcrafted greeting cards, for example, will help support Good Paper, a social enterprise in the Philippines that produces greeting cards made by female victims of human trafficking. By purchasing these cards, you don’t only get to channel your love to your family and friends; you also help provide income to these women as they try to stand up again.

This is because all the products Cambio Market sells come from different social enterprises around the world, carefully filtered to make sure that every worker and artisan involved in the production are paid properly, that only sustainable materials are used, and that they all have a unique and positive social impact.

Two-man team

Bringing these "socially responsible" products to the North American market is no easy task. But you’d be surprised to learn that only two people are behind this start-up.

For Gelaine Santiago and Jerome Gagnon-Voyer, a couple from Canada, this is a passion project brought about by their desire to help people.

SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURS. The couple behind Cambio Market: Jérôme Gagnon-Voyer and Gelaine Santiago. Photo from Cambio Market Instagram account.

The two are no strangers to volunteer work. Gelaine and Jerome both met on AIESEC, an international non-governmental organization for young leaders and cross-cultural exchange experiences, and have been doing volunteer work regularly even while working. 

Before starting Cambio, Gelaine worked in the human resources department of a financial company while Jerome was an IT consultant working with various non-profit organizations.

The idea for Cambio Market, according to the couple, was sparked by their 2012 visit to the Philippines.

Gelaine, who was born to Filipino parents but grew up in Canada, shared that it was her first visit to her home country after leaving when she was only 2 years old.

“Before, I wasn’t really connected with the Filipino culture. I grew up in a Filipino household but I never really had a very strong connection with it until we came back in 2012,” said Gelaine.

But the trip turned out to be an enlightening experience for the couple, especially for Gelaine who was finally discovering a side of her that she had not been in touch with for so long. 

"We had a wonderful time in the Philippines and we realized there’s so much I am missing out on by not getting in touch with my cultural roots and a part of my identity,” she shared.

During the trip, the couple started researching more about the country and eventually came across various social enterprises in the Philippines.

“We were very impressed with the social enterprise landscape in the Philippines… The culture of social enterprise in the Philippines is very strong,” said Jerome.

This led to their first passion project: Choose Social.

Choose Social is a directory of various social enterprises in the Philippines that teaches people about social entrepreneurship and shares stories of people in the field. 

The idea came after their survey of the social enterprise landscape in the Philippines showed a big problem: Information on these companies was scarce to come by, or worse, outdated.

The project, according to Jerome, was one they did as a hobby.

Eventually, people started inquiring about the products they were describing on their website. That led to their idea for a shop that would help increase the reach of these social enterprises.

In October 2015, Cambio Market was born.

FAIR TRADE. Cambio Market launched in October 2015. Screenshot of the Cambio Market website.

The newcomer

The initial response to their venture, according to Jerome, went beyond their expectations. But just like other start-ups, getting their name out there remains the biggest challenge for Gelaine and Jerome.

“It’s a very challenging field – e-commerce in general. There’s so much competition out there, it’s very difficult to attract the right people. We’ve been satisfied with the response but we are hoping for way, way higher,” said Jerome. 

Gelaine shares the same sentiments.

"Marketing has been a big challenge – getting people to know you. The online component is super challenging. It’s really challenging to get people into your website and increasing traffic… Even understanding customers,” she said.

With only the two of them on board, another challenge is research. Gelaine and Jerome research every single partner they work with and every product they sell.

“The products need to look a certain way – they should be modern and appeal to the market here in North America, but at the same time, having ethical business practices and giving back to social cause,” Gelaine shared.

Want to be a social entrepreneur?

For those who also want to be social entrepreneurs, Gelaine said it’s important that you first start to understand the problems you want to solve.

"You really need to understand what’s the problem you’re trying to address. To be successful, you really need to know why you’re doing it. Once you understand the problem you’re trying to address, you can now develop all the solutions,” she said.

Gelaine also said that you should avoid getting stuck on just one type of product or one type of business model.

“If you’re trying to bring change and have a real social impact, you need to be willing to throw everything out when you realize it’s not working and be willing to make changes, however drastic… You can’t be stuck in one direction."

Jerome on the other hand emphasizes the importance of getting some experience first by learning from other social entrepreneurs. 

"Start by learing from existing social entrepreneurs. Go meet with them, work with them, learn what they do. It’s one thing to start a social enterprise but you need some experience, you need some business experience. A lot of people try to start on their own and give up in the end,” he shared.

Social enterprise sure is a tough road for entrepreneurs to take, but one that's definitely worth it.

So the next time you feel like redecorating your house, treating yourself with a cute new accessory, or sending your special someone an equally special gift, consider getting them from Cambio Market and help social enterprises grow. – Rappler.com

#WalangPasok: Class suspensions, Saturday, August 13


What's the weather like in your area? Report the situation through Rappler's Agos or tweet us at @rapplerdotcom.

Refresh this page for updates

MANILA, Philippines – Here is a list of schools and areas where classes have been suspended for Saturday, August 13, due to heavy rains.

Metro Manila

Caloocan City - classes in all levels

City of Manila - classes in all levels

Mandaluyong City - classes in all levels

San Juan City - classes in all levels

Quezon City - classes in all levels 

Valenzuela City - classes in all levels

Makati City - classes in all levels

Malabon City - classes in all levels 

Marikina City - classes in all levels

Pasig City - classes in all levels

Taguig City - classes in all levels

Navotas - classes in all levels

Outside Metro Manila

Antipolo City - classes in all levels

Cainta, Rizal - classes in all levels

Olongapo City - classes in all levels

Subic, Zambales - classes in college

Bataan - classes in all levels

Not on the list? Help us crowdsource class suspensions by posting in the comments section or tweeting @rapplerdotcom.

For more information: When are classes cancelled or suspended?  Rappler.com